Unemployed Emma Trent can't believe her dream job as masseuse of a luxury island resort just fell into her lap. There's one thing the agency didn't mention--the resort caters to vampires! She meets resort owner Alex Masters and reels. Alex is the mystery lover she's been spending all her nights with -- in her dreams.
Alex built the resort as a way for his kind to experience a "day at the beach". But even the grand opening of his greatest achievement is overshadowed by the ache in his soul for one woman -- the sensual woman who's been tormenting his dreams with a taste of the love that has so far eluded him. When he meets the new masseuse, his libido kicks in with a vengeance. His dream woman has dropped out of his dreams and into his life. For a vampire this encounter means one thing--she's his eternal mate. He didn't count on Emma being mortal though--a deadly quality on an island of hungry vampires!
Unable to deny it's more than overwhelming passion drawing them together, Emma's faced with an impossible decision -- choose between her fear of death or her love for Alex.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Last Resort by Sally Painter
He pulled her to him with strong fingers digging into her bare shoulders. Tugging against the spaghetti straps, he grumbled something about fashion designers and the delicate material ripped under his grip.
"I want you to fill me--"
The phone's melodic tune interrupted. Emma tightened her arms around him, struggling against the fog clouding her mind. Where was she? She pushed through the haze and opened heavy eyelids, but they fluttered closed. She opened them once more. Brilliant light seared the world and she shuttered her eyes once more. The cell phone rang again.
Emma groped for it, sending the TV remote clattering to the floor. Stretching her fingers, she slapped against the tabletop until the familiar shape, cold and metal, greeted her fingertips.
"Hello?" she yawned, holding the phone to her ear. The voice on the other end, a perky female, blasted against her ear.
"Yes?" She tried to focus on the bedside digital clock. The numbers ten, zero and three glared at her. The dream clung to her mind, beckoning her to return. The female voice cracked through the haze once more. She rubbed her eyes, still feeling his fingers against her wet heat.
"This is the Trade Agency. I'm calling about a job."
"What?" Her eyes widened and she struggled to sit up in the bed. Remnants of her dream lover's caresses covered her like the sheet she pulled around her. How could a dream be so real? Her body still throbbed with the need to feel him inside her. Kisses still wet and hot tingled against her lips. She rubbed her lips with trembling fingers.
"Did I wake you? Look, I have a job for you." The voice pushed past the dream fantasy. "It's on a private island resort. I'm getting a beep. Hold on." There was a click on the other end.
Emma's mind was still trapped in the sex haze. She sighed and rested against the pillows, longing to go back to sleep and rejoin her dream lover. She wondered why the dreams had grown more powerful over the past few months. Who was this wild passionate lover? She had no name for him other than the nickname she'd dubbed him, phantom lover. But he was more than a dream. He seemed so real. She felt his presence even when she wasn't asleep.
Sexy dreams filled with fiery lovemaking held her captive even when awake, but there was more. After the passionate sex, they'd lie in each other's arms, snuggling and talking about their hopes and plans--plans to be together in the real world, emerging from dreamland and finding each other in the awake world. She'd never heard of anyone having that kind of dream. Yet, in all those pillow talks, he'd never once revealed his name and oddly enough she'd never asked. The dreams went beyond--
The phone clicked again and the perky voice was back.
"Let me call you back, my client's on the other line. Can you be ready to leave in an hour?"
"Leave? In an hour?"
"Okay, make it two, but that's it."
"Are you awake, Emma? This is really important. I need a yes from you. Can you commit to this assignment? My client's willing to pay you three times your normal fee. Do you know what that translates to in annual salary?"
"Is this a temporary job?"
"It's temp to hire, Emma. Wake up! Listen to what I'm telling you. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It's knocking on your door right now. It won't come your way ever again. Clear the sleep from your head and get with me here."
"Where did you say this job was? Three times pay?"
"On a tropical island. A private resort."
"Wow, this sounds like a dream," she said with the woman's words seeping past the fog. "A job on a tropical island?" Emma was suddenly wide-awake. Had she just said temp to hire?
"So are you agreeing to take the job? I can't keep my client on hold much longer. I need an answer. Do you have a passport? "
"I have one," she said. Her mind raced with all the details of what she'd have to do before she could leave.
"Is it current?"
"Yeah. When did you say I'd have to leave?"
* * * * *
"What do you mean you don't have a masseuse? We open tomorrow. We had three yesterday." Alex Masters glared at the resort manager, noting the way the man's Adam's apple bobbed.
"I had three hired, but they were destroyed last night in a raid. Their rival clan hit the spa and destroyed everyone." Felix Andent, a short wiry man with dark hair and a closely cropped goatee, shrugged.
"We need a masseuse in the spa and ready to go come morning." Alex stepped closer, knowing how intimidating his height and muscular form could be.
"I've placed calls to agencies. I might be able to get at least one, but there's just one thing, the masseuses they're calling aren't like us." Felix looked about the vacant lobby as though seeking a way to escape.
"Mortals? You can't be serious." Laughter burst from Alex and bounced off the expensive Italian marble floor, echoing past the magnificent arches some ten stories high all the way to the glass dome. A brilliant Caribbean blue sky filtered into the lobby through the special ultraviolet film.
"She won't be the only mortal here. I mean, we have feeders," Felix said, trying to sound as though it was acceptable.
"We pay them to be feeders and they know what the resort is about. They want to be around vampires. You can't expect the average person to accept this island."
"Vamp masseuses aren't easy to come by," Felix explained. "I tried bribing two away from a New York spa this morning--"
"And?" Alex impatiently crossed the lobby, staring through the open archway to the pristine beachscape beyond. The afternoon breeze drifted through the screened walkway.
"They're too afraid of, you know, all that tropical stuff--sunlight."
"Didn't you explain the screening deck? The special patent I own on the UV window film? Did you let them know they'd have a personal feeder?" Alex's stare centered on him.
"Most of these vamps are ancient and don't take to new ideas real well."
Alex slammed his hands down onto the polished rosewood counter. "We're only booked for the next three weeks." He lowered his voice and leaned in closer. "I had to give the guests half-price incentives to even get them to try VBR. So you can understand how badly the grand opening needs to be perfect."
"I know, but they just don't trust--"
"Vampires are suspicious by nature. You are. I am. I know when it comes to taking risks with sun and surf, they act like a bunch of old women. So triple the wages if you have to, but I expect at least one vampire masseuse by eleven o'clock tomorrow. Understand?"
"No excuses! You're the manager. So make it happen."